Pick A God, Any God

Question from Fawaz:
What is the true religion on earth? Christianity,Islam,Hinduism,At…
Hello
Do you Know Hindus believe that vedas(Hindi scriptures) is from God,Muslims beleves that Quran is from God and Christian Believes that Bible is from God,Which one is correct and if I say all are correct then.All the three have Scientific facts and we know that Atheists believes in science so so which one to choose.

Hindu vedas(1700–1100 BCE)
Scientific facts
1.Shape of Earth is like an Oblate Spheroid. (Rig VedaXXX. IV.V)
2.Earth is flattened at the poles.
3.Blue Sky is Nothing but scattered sunlight (Markandeya Purana 78.8)
Many more facts
http://tinyurl.com/8qlv834

Islam Quran(1400 years ago)
Scientific facts
1.”Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then we
clove them asunder and We got every living thing out of the water? Will they not then
believe?” (21:30)(Big theory says first stage was singularity)
2.”The heaven, we have built it with power. Verily, we are expanding it(Expanding Unvierse)
3.We have placed in the ground (mountains) standing firm, so that it does not shake with
them.”(This says earth has sedimentary mountains which prevents earthquakes it is scientifically proven)
Many more facts
http://tinyurl.com/d8gyhpa

Christianity Bible( 2000 years ago)
Scientific facts
1.He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.
2.The Earth is not motionless(Psalms 104:5 )
3.The earth is round
There are many more facts you can read it from here
http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/youth/scientificfacts/default.asp
we all know that this scientific facts to be know at that time would be impossible and it can only be said by someone who is our creator or who has the knowledge of all things that is GOD.
As all the divine books contains scientific facts it means that which one to choose.
Do you what is the common thing in all the religion.It is God.But some has many and some has one.
As hinduism is the oldest religion it has most chance that the vedas and other hindu scriptures are changed.
Christianity is mid age religion but it has been changed according to the time.
Islam is among one of the recent religion ,so chance of changes are less.

Hinduism
In Hindu religion there is avatar named kalki
Things mentioned about kalki in hindu scriptures
1.Kalki will be born on 12 day of a month
2.In Purana (a holy book of Hindus) it is stated that Kalki Avatar would be the last messenger (prophet) of God in this world for the Guidance of the whole world and all human beings.
3. In books of Hindus, the names of the father and the mother of Kalki Avatar are given as VISHNUBHAGAT and SUMAANI respectively.
4.God would teach Kalki Avatar through His messenger (angel) in a cave.
There are many more points you can search it.
now if we compare it with a prophet know as Muhammad in Islam.
1.Prophet muhammad born on the 12 day of a month of lunar calendar.
2.prophet muhammad is ther last messenger according to Islam.
3.Name of prophet muhammads father is Abdullah and his mother name is ameena.
Take VISHNUBHAGAT= VISHNU (meaning God) + BHAGAT( meaning slave) = ALLAH + ABD (in Arabic) = Slave of God = ABDULLAH (in arabic) (name of Mohammed’s Father)
SUMAANI= PEACE or Calmness = Aamenah (in Arabic).
4.God taught Prophet Muhammad (SAW), through His messenger Jibraeel (Gabrael) in a cave known as Gaar-e-Hiraa.
There are many more points that i am not writing you can read it from here.
http://www.islamicbulletin.com/newsletters/issue_19/hindu.aspx

Christianity
So we know that bible has been changed according to time.What if we get the pure bible which was revealed 2000 years ago but that is impossible but what if we go to the oldest bible.
Lets see what the oldest bible says.
worlds oldest bible(Codex Sinaiticus) says that jesus predict the coming of the prophet muhammad and In line with Islamic belief, the Gospel treats Jesus as a human being and not a God
There is more infomation you can collect it from this site

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2105714/Secret-14million-Bible-Jesus-predicts-coming-Prophet-Muhammad-unearthed-Turkey.html

Islam
prophet muhammad is the last prophet for whole mankind.
accordint to Islam there is only one God and the God in the holy Quran says that he has sent messengers(Prophets) to all the groups in the world and send the message that there is only one god and also send a message that if a messenger comes in the future they should accept him and follow him .
With this we can say that God has send many messengers and many books but after the messengers died,the people changed the religion according to them.
It is hard for a person that if he is follow something from years and someone had showed him evidence that it is wrong he/she won’t be able to believe that.
Please choose the correct religion ,dont be something by chance ,be something by choice.
So which one do you choose

GOD’s Servent

Answer by SmartLX:
We have a set of claims of divine foreknowledge of both science and historical events…from a set of mutually exclusive religions? They can’t all be right, they can’t all speak for the same god or gods, and yet they all seem to have this amazing predictive power.

So what’s going on here? The simplest explanation is that these predictions are coming from a source other than a god. My reference piece on prophecies always comes in handy in situations like this; most of them are likely candidates for #4. Shoehorned, or in other words the passage’s intended meaning has nothing to do with the thing it’s now claimed to predict. If you really see merit in a particular item among the above (anybody, not just Fawaz) single it out and I’ll address it in detail. Chances are that someone already has, though, especially the Biblical stuff. Try a search yourself.

In the absence of any substantial evidence for any one of these religions, I’m not about to pick one. If any of the others is right, I’ll be punished, possibly more for worshipping a rival, false god than for simply withholding my judgement.

Biblical Evidence Disqualified?

Question from Zach:
Does Christians not having evidence that isn’t rooted in the Bible mean there is no proof that has yet been discovered?

Answer by SmartLX:
What’s in the Bible isn’t proof either, so regardless of the Bible there’s no available proof at all.

There are quite a few different ways in which people attempt to prove the truth of Christianity using the Bible, some of which we’ve looked at here (see following links where available) but none of which have achieved much more than to reassure those who already believe.
– They argue that the text couldn’t have stayed as intact as it is from copy to copy from the original manuscript if the important bits weren’t true. To address this as briefly as I can, this is not convincing, because yes it could have.
– They argue that the Bible makes prophecies that are fulfilled in later books of the Bible, came true later or reveal scientific truths unknown to the people of the ancient world. This was Great Big Argument #5 in my series.
– They argue from their own personal “religious experiences” while reading the Bible, claiming that God has done what He’s supposed to do and acted upon them through His Word. This is extremely subjective, and unless it results in a verifiable miracle it’s not verifiable at all. It’s their word against anyone else’s.
– They argue that if people acted as written in the four Gospels and afterwards, then Jesus must really have risen from the dead. This one has caused a lot of long arguments here with little progress, and it remains unconvincing to non-believers no matter how incontrovertible it sounds to believers when it’s coming out of Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell or William Lane Craig. One problem is that Christians tend to be very, very reluctant to concede the slightest point about Jesus, so central is he to the truth claims of the religion. If you want to wade in, there are recent-ish articles about Jesus here and here. This answer has links to tons of material both within and outside Ask the Atheist if you want to go all out.

An Atheist Pastor

Question from Pastor Tim:
For the last six years I have been a youth pastor at a church I grew up in. I met my wife in this church and “we” plan to raise our kids in this church as well. A year ago I enrolled in Bible college and I became extremely interested in knowing everything there is to know about Christianity, the origin of the Bible, and also other religions. This is where my current problem began.

You see, the more I learned the more I realized that the Bible is a complete fabrication. At first I just had a few doubts but now I realize just how crazy the whole thing really is. I’m on the verge of being kicked out of school for some of the questions I’ve been asking. I’m trying to save face at church but I teach dozens of kids about a God I no longer believe in. I know you’re probably getting a kick out of this but for me it is total hell (pun intended). Just the other day my senior pastor wanted to know what has gotten into me and I wanted to tell him but it would just kill my wife, her family and mine.

I feel like a robot and I dread Sunday school. It makes me wonder though if there are others at church that feel the same but keep it to themselves for fear of being socially outcast. I have no one to talk to – everyone around me is out of their minds. It’s a holy ghost charismatic church. You know – the whole speaking in tongues – slain in the spirit deal?

I have been trying to teach less about god and more historical significance of stuff in the Bible but I feel like a total fraud and I know this is not what the parents want for their kids. I want so bad to come out but I just can’t; our whole families go to this church. I think if I tell her it will lead to divorce. I love my wife and still believe strongly in a lot of the good values taught in the Bible. Something has got to give, please help!

Answer by SmartLX:
Tim, it sounds like it sucks to be you, and believe me when I say this does not make me happy. I don’t do this often, but I’ve changed your first name in your “question” so that someone in your family or congregation doesn’t stumble across this site and peg you. I’m not saying that “coming out” to your community as an atheist is necessarily the wrong thing to do, but if you go for it you should definitely wait until you’re ready.

The good news is that you are far from alone. May I introduce the Clergy Project, an online community specifically created (partly by Daniel Dennett) for members of the clergy who have lost their faith. They’ll have far better advice than me on dealing with your still-religious friends and family, telling your secret, making a living after leaving the church and so on. They’ve had a lot of good publicity lately, so you can go in with your eyes open. Importantly, they are completely confidential until you decide to go public, which you may choose not to.

I urge you to present yourself to the Clergy Project, because people in your unfortunate situation are the very reason it exists. Dennett conducted a study beforehand which found huge numbers of non-believing clergy, most of them feeling just as trapped as you. I say again, you are not alone.

The Great Big Arguments #1b: Presuppositional, SyeTenB Style

Sample argument:
The proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn’t prove anything. You must borrow from the Christian worldview, and a God who makes universal, immaterial, unchanging laws possible, in order to prove anything. By what standard can you know anything without God?

Answer by SmartLX:
This is the Transcendental Argument for God in a form made popular by Sye Ten Bruggencate and his fellows. The argument above is paraphrased from his automated, supposedly God-proving website. (Just click through the obviously desired responses to get to the meat.) I’ve already addressed the TAG here, but this version has a different emphasis and it warrants another look.

Presuppositionalist apologists work from two main presuppositions, both of which follow from a basic assumption that the Bible is the inerrant word of God:
– crediting all the universe’s unchanging laws, including logic and truth itself, to God (Jeremiah 33:25 among others), and
– the idea that all non-believers are actually believers in denial (Romans 1:18-20, with added derogation in verses 21 and 22).
The practical approach to witnessing is to deprive subjects of any basis for knowledge or reason except God while pleading for them to repent, in the hope that their supposed secret belief will reassert itself. For examples, look up any video or recording of Bruggencate, who proudly never does anything else.

Engaging this argument invariably boils down to arguing over one’s own ideas about truth and reason. If I say I look for evidence for truth claims, I’ll be asked how I know the evidence isn’t faked or imaginary. If I rattle off tests, I’ll be asked how I know they’re reliable, and so on. If I point out something crazy or immoral in the Bible, I’ll be asked by what standard I can judge it. It often goes nowhere in the end, with the believer thinking he’s “won” and the non-believer not only continuing not to believe but thinking a lot less of the believer.

There are different positions people can take, of course, but my approach to objective morality applies pretty well here too:
– If there are absolute laws of logic, morality, etc. then we probably don’t know what they are. Just because the God character in the Bible says certain things are absolute doesn’t mean those are the ones. (If you’re a presuppositionalist trawling this piece for absolutist statements to pounce on, that last sentence qualifies for one, and yes, I think some absolutes do exist. Just because I don’t know why they exist doesn’t mean a god set them up – see below.)
– Most or all of what we say that we know might be wrong, because we’re fallible people. However many things are testable, repeatable and consistent enough that we can be confident that they’re true, and behave as if we know them. Known absolutes are not necessary. A believer, by contrast, thinks he or she really does know some crucial things for certain, but might be wrong all the same.
– That laws (may) exist which are universal, immaterial and unchanging does not mean a particular book’s idea of a universal, immaterial and unchanging God created them. One simpler explanation is that, like God Himself is meant to be, the laws themselves are eternal and had no beginning.

I should also mention the circular reasoning inherent in the presuppositional approach. God exists, which is revealed to us in the Bible, which God apparently wrote because the Bible says he did. It’s no more complicated than that, and Bruggencate has admitted as much. It doesn’t concern him, firstly because he argues that everyone else does the same thing and secondly because if God is somewhere in the circle then it’s “just” or “virtuous” circular reasoning. I’ll let that speak for itself.

I’ve said before that much emphasis is placed on spreading the Word and very little on making it stick. The presupposition that there are no real atheists goes a long way towards explaining this, so I suspect it’s quite widespread. Further, Bruggencate and others regularly give it as a reason why this argument will Save(tm) professed non-believers. There are no statistics to suggest that any significant number of atheists or others are “renewing” their faith as a result of this argument, but measurable results don’t seem to matter. The apologists make their money from reassured believers regardless, so what’s the difference if they’re dead wrong about us atheists?

Understanding Christians

Question from Kage:
So what exactly is a Christian, and why do they believe that someone died, and somehow managed to raise himself from the dead and all? Is there a reason they believe this? Any evidence at all? Any contrary?

Answer by SmartLX:
Christians are followers of Jesus Christ, as the name suggests. Some self-proclaimed Christians don’t let this affect their daily life very much, to the point where being a “follower” of Jesus Christ means no more than being a “follower” of someone on Twitter. Still, Jesus is their central figure.

Trinitarian dogma varies between denominations, but since a common belief is that Jesus was not just the son of God but God himself, it’s fair to say many Christians do believe he raised himself from the dead.

The reasons why Christians believe this is often different from the reasons they give others to believe it. For most, they believe it simply because they were taught it from a very young age. For some, they’ve had a “religious experience” and think they’ve seen the risen Jesus first-hand.

The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is entirely document-based. The Bible states that it happened, and some other sources mention it (though there are no contemporary accounts), and people simply argue for accepting the fact based on this. That gets you into long discussions about scriptural reliability and fulfilled prophecies. If you search this site for Jesus and/or the resurrection, you’ll find a lot of this kind of thing.

The only thing which might count as evidence against the resurrection is the lack of evidence for the resurrection, but it depends on how much evidence you would expect there to be.

Fear

Question from Emma:
I am not sure if I am brave enough to be an atheist. I am pretty cowardly and I fear death, however the only logical explanation I can reach is that God doesn’t exist, at least not in the way people think. Are most Christians only Christians because they are scared?

Answer by SmartLX:
If you’ve reached the conclusion that God doesn’t exist then you’re an atheist, whether or not you like it or you think you’re brave enough. Nobody said atheists had to be happy about the absence of gods; some actively wish there were a god, while others are relieved that there apparently isn’t.

Some Christians really are Christians because of fear, or at least they continue to believe in God because they want God to exist. They don’t consider that this isn’t a good reason to believe something, or that it makes it no more likely to be true, because they have become emotionally dependent on the idea of a personal god. I know this from personal experience – not my own former beliefs, really, but the beliefs of some of those close enough to me to admit the nature of their belief. (It’s simple enough to ask, “Why do you believe that?” but someone might need to be very open to answer it truthfully.)

Of course it’s not as simple as belief assuaging one’s fears and atheism leaving one defenceless. Christianity is itself as much a source of fear as any religion. The adjective “God-fearing” is usually meant as a compliment, for crying out loud. The idea of nothing after death isn’t the only reason to fear it; fear of Hell is part and parcel of the core doctrine of Christianity, and the Church’s main method of keeping and controlling its adherents. This is why so many ex-believers feel a huge sense of relief when they let it all go.

If you leave your religion, your fear of death probably won’t change much. Your real worry will be guilt, and the added fear of retribution by God, during and/or after your mortal life. It’s an irrational fear for someone who doesn’t think there’s a God, but it happens all the same. It’s a symptom of what I call “faithdrawal”, the psychological fallout of the loss of faith. Believe me, it fades over time.

Finally, you’re not cowardly just because you’re afraid of something. Bravery is about facing and overcoming fear, so if you weren’t afraid you’d have no way to be brave. You’re well on your way to courage if you’re delving into this issue, working to make your peace with the concept of death.

Christian Talking Points: a laundry list

Question from Chris:
I am just curious, if you dont believe in God, then what is the whole point of your life, and how did we all get here, we just suddenly appeared, I have never been brainwashed as to some people on this forum are saying, but your forum actually proves that there is a God just by the simple fact that an Atheist exists, the bible clearly says that there will be people who say there is no God, and will deny His Existence, One day weather you believe in God or not you will stand before God and if you believe in Him you will bow down in reverence and if you dont you will bow in fear, God loves you and wants you to love Him Back.

Answer by SmartLX:
Chris, you’ve managed to re-ask more questions we’ve already answered in a single post than anyone who’s ever written in. My answer will therefore read more like an index.

On the subject of purpose and meaning in life: see this list of pieces with the keyword “purpose”. We all decide the “point” of our own lives, whether we throw in with the demands of a religion or we strike out on our own.

On the subject of how we all came to be here, see these pieces on “origins” and these on “evolution” (over several pages). The idea that humans “suddenly appeared” is as far from the truth as you can get.

On the subject of possible brainwashing, see the pieces on “indoctrination”. There are many ways to bring people to belief, and though many (such as childhood indoctrination) are in some sense forcible, not all of them are. I wouldn’t dare to guess at your particular circumstances.

On the subject of Biblical prophecy, see my main piece on prophecies. The prediction that not everyone in the whole world would agree that there’s a God falls into the first category, High Probability of Success. Anyone could have guessed that at the time the Bible was written, or at any other time. It’s hardly a clear-cut case of divine foreknowledge.

On the subject of trying to frighten non-believers with the idea that they might be wrong (and that your specific beliefs might also be right, which is equally crucial), see the pieces which touch on “Pascal’s Wager”. You can’t scare someone with something they don’t think is there and, despite popular evangelical opinion, every atheist isn’t really a theist in denial.

Finally, I haven’t done a piece on God’s love yet, likely because it’s a theological topic which is moot until the existence of God is established. I’ll just say that if God exists and regularly sends people he loves to Hell, His love is worthless anyway.

The search field in the top right corner of the site is very useful for determining whether someone has already asked the questions you have in mind, so remember that for next time.

Ask the Christian, Ask Him Hard

Question from Conor:
I have a very annoying RE teacher. I always ask questions to catch him out but he replies by changing what he previously said. Normally when I ask a christian a question it’s OK because they don’t repeat themselves but he does.

I would like you to send me a couple of question to really catch him out but at the same time he is my teacher so i can’t be rude.

Thanks hope you reply.

Answer by SmartLX:
It sounds like you’d get farther with this guy by taking notes and then quoting his earlier responses when he contradicts them.

Regardless, if you want all-purpose difficult questions for Christians they’re all over the place, so there’s no point repeating them here. Try here, here and here, and if you still need more just google “questions for christians” (without the quotes).

Just consider beforehand whether it’s worth scoring a few rhetorical points against your teacher. The thing about all these questions is that Christian apologists have probably answered every one of them somewhere or other. It seldom matters whether it’s a good answer or even an understandable one; just the fact that there is an answer is enough to reassure many confused Christians that their apologist idols have routed the atheist onslaught, and may actually strengthen their faith in the long run.

There are a few who don’t accept the apologists’ answers and become more skeptical, though. (I was one of these. It meant a lot to me when I was young that there were too many different answers to the Problem of Evil). It ultimately depends on whether you want to deconvert individuals or decrease belief overall, because with this approach you’re more likely to do only the former.

Christian Crimes

Question from Willard:
I grew up in Iowa until a freshman in high school when we moved to Fayette, Mo.in 1956 where the school was integrated. In 1955 there were no separate water fountains or restroons marked white and colored, but everything else was Jim Crowed where blacks were not allowed to use the big city park with baseball,tennis,swimming pool, sat in the balcony at the theater, not allowed to eat in the restaurants, pool hall, not one decent job in the town of 2500. It was a college town also.

My observation as a lifetime athest activist, a history major and long time political activist is why doesn’t the atheist movement ever refer to the Christian claim of being moral by pointing out specifically the history of vicious racism and slavery? Extremely undemocratic in the extreme. On top of that they are serial law breakers. Again in the extreme. I do not see any punishment when they break the law. Oh yes FFRF and others sue but threaten to sue and once in a while win some damages suits. Seems like a soft glove approach and we lose when we do not use the tactic that would also help to educate.

There is not just propaganda value for “our” side but educational value that they are breaking the law and say so. Especially in the South their history of “morality” has been criminal in highly unfair treatment of all “nonwhites” with injustice rather than justice.

Answer by SmartLX:
Some outspoken atheists regularly refer to the religious rationales people have applied to institutionalised racism and slavery in recent history. The problem is that modern Christians are free to denounce whatever theology contradicts theirs, and claim that the perpetrators of these evils were “not true Christians”. Exposure to Christianity’s dark past leads people to distance themselves from previous Christians more often than Christianity itself.

You raise a good legal question: is there actually a prescribed punishment for violating church-state separation, besides being ordered to stop? If a list of the Ten Commandments or a crucifix is removed from a classroom or a courthouse, what damages are due for the time it spent there? I doubt I’d know that even if I were an American. Where it crosses the line into serious criminal conduct, such as electoral fraud or physical violence, it is usually well-concealed. If you’ve got some examples of specific activities that could be targeted for lawsuits and arrests, I’d love to hear them.

A Real God Botherer

Question from Ethan:
Hi, I recently came out to my family and friends about my atheism about May this year, my family is just starting to accept my lack of religion, but I have this friend who is also my roommate in at college who can’t stand the fact that I don’t believe, and is pulling every cheap shot and tugging at as many emotional strings as he can to get me to come running back, it’s gotten to the point where he dragged my recently deceased grandmother into an argument. Every time I see him it’s some irrefutable proof of god videos and verses (which predictably are loaded with poor arguing points) I need some advice on how to deal with this, it’s gone from simple conversion attempts to malicious tearing down. If you find the time to get back, thanks.

Answer by SmartLX:
There are ways to make yourself an unappealing target for conversion, chief among which is to make proselytisers fear for their own faith. The best defence is a good offence. That’s not to say tit for tat, because doing what your friend does would make you as bad as him, but you can carefully paint yourself as a source of doubt in others, and therefore not someone a devout Christian should talk to about faith.

First you should cut through all the guff. All the videos and quoted arguments he’s thrown at you have something in common: they’re not the reason he believes. He went and looked them up because he believes, and is using them as apologetic without any evidence that they can actually convince anyone who isn’t already devout. They might seem sound to him, but if they didn’t convince him or anyone he knows, why does he bother bringing them to you? Point out that it’s pointless.

If he really wants to make a Christian out of you, he needs to risk himself and tell you exactly why he believes. If you can get him that far, the focus will be off you and his own rationale will be up for criticism. You sound fairly confident with these things, so you probably have a hunch already; he was brought up to believe, for example, or he had a one-off religious experience. (Incidentally, a great many of those can be put down to sleep paralysis.) The question you should put to him is, is that a good reason to believe? If his parents believed it, does that make it true? Is there no earthly way he could have generated the same experience in his own brain? Adapt the question to the reason. If you can make him feel even slightly insecure about his own faith, and especially if you can do this regularly, it will become clear to him that witnessing to you is more trouble than it’s worth.

There is the possibility that he’ll go the other way and redouble his efforts, if only to reassure himself. If he changes the subject to some other YouTube apologetic, stop him. “Did this convince you? Has this convinced anyone? Where are all the ex-atheists on YouTube responding to this particular video with remorse, contrition and fervour? Is there any indication that apologetics have any effect at all on atheists? Not really, so let’s get back to your real belief and see whether that’s justified.”

Few believers are willing to risk their own souls (or their own egos) to Save(tm) the souls of others. It negates the rewards promised to them. That’s why most believers who distribute propaganda do not create their own unique pamphlets and videos: they’re not comfortable exposing their own heartfelt reasons for believing. The necessity of doing so to continue a discussion is a powerful deterrent. It’ll be easier for your friend to pray to God to show you the light than to stick his own neck out.

Whether you take my advice or not, do please let us know how you go. You’re in a very common situation and others may learn from you, whatever happens.